Do you remember the song? In the Diocese of Durgapur, which has been linked with the Wirksworth Team Ministry for the last five years, three wheeled wagons are a means of providing a living for a number of poor families in remote areas of the diocese. Durgapur is about four hours drive North West of Calcutta (Kolkata), and its Bishop, Probal Dutta encouraged us to link with him and his people after our Rector’s visit to India six years ago. Two years ago, David Truby and Alison Richards, from Wirksworth, visited India and suggested that buying three wheeled rickshaws which could be used to transport goods and people around, would be a good way of assisting people to provide and income for their families. Since then, churches in the team, along with people from their parishes, have been raising money to provide the eighteen rickshaws that now make up the fleet.
At the beginning of February, David Truby, Rector of the Team Ministry, and his Methodist and United Reformed Church colleagues, Steve Bennett and Camilla Veitch, visited Durgapur to explore ways of developing the link. Until now it has been focussed on the team, but other churches in the Wirksworth area have been drawn in through Churches Together in Wirksworth and District. In the autumn of last year, our local Methodist churches decided to send the money raised through their harvest festivals to a hospital in Serenga, a small town south of Durgapur. This church run facility provides health care for many tribal people living in surrounding districts who would have to travel many miles to a government run hospital. The dedicated team of medics work against the odds to ensure the safe delivery of children provide a degree of emergency care and set up eye clinics in remote areas to remove cataracts free of charge.
One of the most moving occasions on the visit was the opportunity to participate in the ordination of a young woman priest who was sponsored through college by the Wirksworth Team. Swageta Das was ordained with two others at the Annual Diocesan Thanksgiving Service, in front of three thousand people who had come in from across a diocese which is larger than England! As guests of the Church of North India, our clergy were able to extend their hands at the ordination prayer—something which they would be unable to do in this country due to denominational differences.
The final part of the visit was spent in Calcutta, when a visit to Bishop’s College, one of the theological colleges for the CNI, allowed the group to explore ways in which the Diocese of Derby might be able to help in theological education for the large numbers of people coming forward for ordination.
Now that the link with Durgapur has become well established our hope is that all of our churches will have a better sense of belonging to the world wide Christian Family. We all benefit and learn from each other as we seek to serve the Kingdom of God.
David Truby (Rector, Wirksworth Team Ministry)